Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden made an announcement that USDA is investing in rural businesses and development organizations to spur economic growth in rural areas and in Tribal communities. The investments are part of the Obama Administration and there ongoing efforts to help rural and Tribal communities. They target communities that have the greatest need for assistance. USDA is targeting capital and technical assistance to small businesses and development organizations to help stimulate more business activity in areas that are struggling economically.
The USDA RBEG (Rural Business Enterprise Grant) and RBOG (Rural Business Opportunity Grant) programs provide the funding. RBEG help small and emerging rural businesses. RBOG program promotes sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs.
The grants are being awarded in areas designated as REAP zones (Rural Economic Area Partnership). REAP zones are areas that are considered economically distressed due to factors such as poverty, geographic isolation, declining populations or economic upheaval. Grants are also being targeted, predominantly through the RBOG program to federally recognized Native American Tribes.
USDA Rural Development has invested 6 million in REAP zones through the RBEG program. The grants have supported businesses and community projects across the country, creating or retaining 2,200 jobs. The RBOG have helped approximately 400 businesses and have created and/or retained about 2,100 jobs.
USDA funding includes more than 2.2 million for organizations in Vermont, New York and North Dakota. Nine organizations in Vermont are receiving RBEG and RBOG grants totaling nearly 1.2 million. They will use the money to develop businesses, help revitalize a downtown district, and create jobs across the state.